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While holding this seven-inch EP in my hands for what may be the umpteenth time, I finally noticed how goofy the band's name looks across the top. It looks like something penned on the fly and without any thought that it might be around 27 years later. But here it is, and now I'm really noticing that the dude on the cover has shark-like teeth and the cross besides him is more ominous than cute. This looks a bad dream of pimp crusaders and mosquito shades envisioned as part of a long-lost blaxploitation flick.
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Surreal cover art aside, it's with a heavy heart that I must report that Morbid Opera's charismatic lead vocalist Lisa Hodapp passed away on April 12 after a struggle with cancer. She was a young 49 years old and leaves behind her teenaged kids and husband (fellow punker and Roach Motel/Drug Czars guitarist Jeff Hodapp), as well as many people who called her friend and who looked up to her within our little scene. Ahh ... cancer's a fucker.
I was able to track down this six-song EP about 10 or 12 years ago for about 15 bucks and I've loved its quirky, almost psychotropic garage-tinged, female punk rock ever since. Side A opens with the X or Waitresses-sounding "Liar" that just takes flight and rocks out with Lisa's vocals running for speed along with the instrumentation. Drummer Carmen and bassist Libby do a good job of providing rhythm for Nelson's guitar to jangle over, before getting into the more somber mid-tempo "Private Prostitute" that's heavier on the psychedelics than the hardcore. Side A closes with "Deep End," a slow jam of sporadic drums and tripping guitars that almost begs the criminal misuse of a drunken keyboard solo. Don't ask, that's just what I get from it.
Side B opens with the straight rocker "One-Dimensional," which has a subtle country and western motif running underneath. The song unearths something sexy in Lisa's voice that reminds me of the more New Wave leanings of scene contemporaries The Cichlids. (That's another, mostly female outfit out of South Florida ... and they say we're degenerates here!) "Madness" is a creepy take on psychobilly moments that relies on ritualistic-sounding vocals. The EP's closer, "Sledgehammer," combines the previous five songs' styles and adds a little swamp funk into the proceedings for a slow and lysergic-laced tune of desperate wailing and mumbled truths.
Lisa Hodapp was an incredible figure within the South Florida scene. From her work in Morbid Opera to Monistat 7 to the Gargirls, Lisa touched many lives through her music and inspired many; Kreamy 'Lectric Santa's Priya in particular cites her as an influence. She will be missed by many. This is a great record and I'd like to note that it has a cover-top-to-insert-bottom double-fold that virtually prevents dust from entering and settling on the wax. That makes my little record-collecting heart very happy, whether it was done on purpose or not. Rest in peace, Ms. Hodapp, and thank you for the music. It's still here with us, 27 years later.